I wish Dungeons & Dragons had a bright future ahead of it.
Alas, I think it will get worse before it gets better. I mean, we’ve survived other edition changes. What makes this one different?
It’s simple really. Other than 4th Ed, no one has tried to officially integrate a Virtual TableTop environment into the game. To me, One D&D looks like an attempt to turn D&D into a video game. Straight up.
It’s as if Wizards of the Coast no longer cares about the tabletop market. This latest incarnation of the Druid recently released looks like it came almost straight from World of Warcraft. But they kinda left out Feral for some reason. But, if you played Moonkin or Restoration? It’ll look pretty familiar for the most part. Shoot spells or heal. Those are basically the options presented in the latest Unearthed Arcana “playtest” document.
I think we’ll still get our “nostalgic” content in the form of a physical Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s guide. Then comes the hideous Internet abomination that will be the One D&D virtual site, whatever they end up calling it. Oh, but it uses the Unreal Engine, just like Fortnite.
But Fortnite is a video game. That’s not the same as a TTRPG. Right?
I’m going to predict, and this isn’t a conspiracy theory, that the new D&D VTT is going to be indistinguishable from any MMORPG except maybe for the speed at which it moves. Maybe they’ll give us virtual dice to roll, maybe they won’t.
Okay, now I’m putting the tinfoil hat on for a minute.
I’m predicting (again) that WotC will control most or all of their own PDF and ePub sales. I’m predicting their physical copies will slow down dramatically in 2024 and trickle out 1-3 books per year at most afterward. Meanwhile all of their electronic sales will blow up huge on the VTT or at least that’s what they want to have happen.
It’s going to reach a point where there won’t be updates, expansions, or sourcebooks for any physical material. But there will be tons and tons of microtransactions available online. Imagine paying $1.99 for a handful of new monsters complete with their “miniatures” on the VTT? Maybe they’ll throw in a PDF for another $.99 for all the dinosaurs like me that would still be reading stuff. If VP Chris Cao has his way, that’s where it will begin and end.
I think WotC will eventually be incredibly successful with the new VTT (video game) or the thing is going to bomb hideously, costing them millions. I think if the VTT goes to pieces, Hasbro is going to cut their losses. D&D will be reduced to a boxed set, like a board game. If they’re feeling generous, we’ll keep the PHB, MM, and DMG but very little else by way of official content. They may hit a financial hurdle so high the only way to cross it will be to turn everything but the core rules over to the fans and rely on us to create all of our own content.
Truthfully, I think that’s where we’re headed for those of us who want nothing to do with the VTT. There will be the TTRPG crowd. We’ll play in person, at conventions, maybe in Friendly Local Game Stores (if they survive.) Our online games will be on VTT platforms WotC hasn’t run out of town or bought out. We will probably be supporting everything but One D&D. Old School, Pathfinder, and indie games galore will be the order of the day. It’ll look like D&D, but…
Just wait, it gets better.
My best educated guess as to why WotC caved on the Open Game License debacle and surrendered the SRD to CC-BY-4.0 is because they know they have a deal in place to monetize it. My guess? They’ve either bought OneBookShelf entirely or they’re going to move DMsGuild over to their own web platform. Again, my opinion, but it just seems such a logical move for them.
We already know WotC cut a profit sharing deal with Kickstarter during the OGL 1.1 scandal. I seriously doubt anyone has renegotiated the deal since. OGL 1.1 was a signed, done deal for some creators. Not everyone turned it down as far as we know. Because of all the NDAs involved, especially for anyone who signed the bloody contract, we’ll never know for sure what was said.
My other hypothesis is WotC is looking for a way to convert Patreon users to their own platform OR they’re going to cut some kind of royalty deal with the company. When Cynthia Williams said they were going to monetize players? My guess is they are working to monetize anything and everything they can get their grubby little hands on. Hasbro/WotC aren’t stupid, but I’d definitely say greedy. Time will tell if I’m right.
It’s already in the can.
I stand by my statement. WotC already has One D&D ready to go on paper. All this playtest survey stuff? It’s all smoke and mirrors. If anything, they’re taking the feedback to adjust the print version of the game at most. WotC has always been transparent about the fact that the VTT is their main impetus. It’s taking a while to feed all the data into the Unreal Engine and line up as many platforms, apps and even consoles as they can. That’s not fast or easy.
The VTT will likely be ready to roll in 2024. Oh, sure. We’ll get a big, shiny rollout. Much like the announcement of One D&D, we’ll get renowned community figures and “designers” telling us how great this thing is. Those same people are going to keep telling us how great One D&D is right up until they can’t ignore their own dumpster fire.
Hey, Cynthia Williams- Give me a paid gig running D&D in a castle somewhere, and I’ll shut up about your company and delete all the mad smack I’ve ever talked about you. (*LOL!) I mean, I’m at a stage in my life where money is good, too. Just don’t try to pay me in WotC product because, um, I uh hate to tell ya it’s not terribly popular. Seriously, have ya boy Kyle Brink get in touch. Let’s see what we can work out.
I’ll just leave that here.
We all know some of my WotC rants. The end is nigh or something. Truthfully, I dunno where it’s all going to end up for sure. I’m speculating based on what has happened with prior editions. They’re going to do what they’re going to do regardless of what fans say. To an extent, they’ve already done it.
Thanks for stopping by. It’s great having us here as a community. I appreciate it. Remember, we’re all in this together. Maybe back to some TTRPG stuff tomorrow.